After just three months in the hospital, the first Polish full face transplantee was finally able to return home.
Thirty-three year old Grezgorz was disfigured last April when a machine, used to cut stone at his workplace, tore off most of his face and crushed his upper jaw. Due to the deterioration of his health, doctors had to act fast.
Professor Sebastian Giebel if from the Gliwice Institute of Oncology. He said: “There was a real danger which was unprecedented in previous face transplant surgeries. We didn’t have the correct immune and histocompatibility antigen. For example, during the first ever transplant, which was done in France, five of the six antigens were compatible. Whereas during our transplant, only two of the six were compatible, so there was a high risk that the body would reject the transplant.”
The 27-hour-long transplant operation took place in May, just three weeks after the accident.
Face transplants are extremely rare and complicated procedures, which normally require a period of months or even years of preparation.
The surgery reconstructed the face, jaw, palate and the bottom of the man’s eye sockets. Doctors say it was the world’s fastest operation of its kind.
“It was more difficult due to the fact that it was the first operation which required immediate action,” said Professeur Adam Maciejewski of the Gliwice’s Institute of Oncology.
“The tissue was so damaged that the body was unable to heal before the operation. During previous transplants, which have been done around the world, bodies had time for the repair process before the operations,” he added.
Grezgors has made a lot of progress since the surgery. Now he can see, read, has feeling and can even smell again. However, he will need further rehabilitation to restore his normal facial functions, such as speaking.
More than two dozen transplants of the entire or parts of the face have been performed around the world since 2005.